—— More About Us ——

The Rochester Academy of Science and its five Sections are active in scientific and scholarly pursuits in Rochester and Western New York. The activities of the RAS can be briefly summarized as follows:

We foster STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education and engage in public outreach to benefit society:

  • We hold events open to the public and publicized as widely as we are able, such as the annual Fall Paper Session, the annual Spring Lecture, the annual Mineral Show, monthly Section meetings, and field trips scheduled by several of the Sections.
  • All our Sections participate actively in the annual two-day Science Exploration Days program in Rochester, for students in grades 7-12, sponsored by the Central Western Section of the Science Teachers Association of NYS.
  • Some of our Sections sent representatives to Science Camp sessions at Rochester Institute of Technology in the summer of 2009.
  • The Mineral Section provides activities promoting learning about minerals at the annual Mineral Show [a display and sales event for the public, not the same as the Mineralogical Symposium].
  • The Astronomy Section gives instruction to Boy and Girl Scouts who want to earn an Astronomy Badge.
  • The Astronomy Section offers Project Scope each year or two, in which teachers are taught about astronomy.
  • The Astronomy Section assists at the Strasenburgh Planetarium almost monthly; it holds Star Parties monthly or more often at local parks during clement weather, with members welcoming all comers to look through the telescopes they have brought; members take telescopes to public places such as parks and malls and invite all comers to look at the sun or at the stars and planets (as appropriate); it holds open houses at our observing site in Ionia, NY to allow our neighbors to see what we do and educate them about astronomy and related sciences. In turn, we assist with local festivals by opening our site to hay rides and setting up telescopes for solar observing.
  • Several of the Sections provide displays and answer questions at open events at local parks and other venues (e.g., Winterfest) put on by other organizations (e.g., Adirondack Mountain Club, and the Monroe Co. Parks Department).
  • In 2009, three Sections provided materials for a display at Rundel Library in Rochester that filled several display cases with minerals, fossils, and herbarium specimens, as well as informative placards.

We promote, encourage, and publicize scientific and scholarly pursuits, and we provide a common meeting ground for discussion of cutting edge research:

  • Annually we solicit applications from undergraduates at local colleges and universities, review them, and give monetary awards of a few hundred dollars to the top four to six applicants.
  • We have a Fall Paper Session each year at which all [students, adult researchers, and any others who submit] are welcome to present oral papers (10-15 min) or posters on their research findings.
  • We sponsor an annual Mineralogical Symposium that attracts nationwide and international attendance to hear the latest research in mineralogy.
  • Our five Sections (Anthropology, Astronomy, Fossil, Mineral, and Life Sciences) have meetings (monthly for most Sections, or less frequently) at which cutting-edge research is sometimes presented.
  • From time to time we elect Fellows of the Academy; some are named for their service to the Academy, and some are named for their outstanding scientific contributions.

We disseminate and archive centuries of knowledge:

  • We keep an extensive file of historic academy material in the University of Rochester Rush Rhees Library, in their archives and open shelves.
  • We maintain a herbarium with over 60,000 plant specimens [most but not all from Western New York State] dating as far back as the mid-1800s.
  • We publish Proceedings at irregular intervals, containing articles on scientific topics pertaining to Western New York, as well as the abstracts of the papers and posters from the Fall Paper Sessions since the last Proceedings; the Proceedings are disseminated to organizations around the world.
  • Our website provides selected articles of historical and general interest from the Proceedings, as well as notices of current and future activities.

We provide advice to governmental agencies:

  • Our Astronomy Section provides advice and guidance on dark-sky matters, at the level of local and town government and boards.

Among our most prominent members have been or are the following:

Edward Bausch (as in Bausch & Lomb).
Chester Carlson; inventor of xerography and founder of Xerox.
Ralph Dakin; optical designer, maker of the Dakin Barlow lens.
Herman LeRoy Fairchild; American educator and geologist. He was an early proponent of the theory of meteorite impact causing craters such as that of Meteor Crater, Arizona.
Henry A. Ward; founded Ward's Natural Science Establishment in 1862.


Updated February 9, 2010